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Syria's Media Rebels; Afghan Quran Furor; Spotlight on Somalia; Google's Privacy Policy Change Sparks Concern; UN Investigators Call For Syrian Cease-Fire, Cite Human Rights Abuses

Aired February 23, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And we begin in Syria, where shelling continues in the city of Homs as a U.N. report accuses Syrian forces of committing human rights abuses amounting to crimes against humanity.

Inside Kenya's battle against Somali insurgents on their own turf.

And how Google can track everywhere you go online and how you can turn it off.

The bloodshed in Syria shows no sign of slowing down despite international condemnation for the deaths of two Western journalists and dozens of civilians on Wednesday. Now, the intense rocket fire, it appears to be continuing to pound the city of Homs for the 20th straight day. Activists say at least four people have been killed so far this Thursday across the country.

And here, fierce gunfire apparently causes terror in the city of Aleppo. The opposition says an 8-year-old boy was killed on Tuesday. Now, Syrian authorities say that armed terrorists are responsible for the attacks.

And CNN cannot verify the authenticity of those YouTube videos, but they help provide some information from inside the country, where journalists face heavy restrictions.

And as Ivan Watson reports, activists in the north of Syria say the makeshift video reports are their main weapon.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They make protest banners, lead anti-government demonstrations, and stream them online, live, to the outside world. These young men are some of the activists who have kept the Syrian uprising alive in the face of a government crackdown that's left thousands dead.

The Syrian regime says it is fighting armed terrorists, but these revolutionaries insist they don't need guns.

SHAHER SUMAC, OPPOSITION ACTIVIST: I don't need Kalashnikov, I need justice and lots of media.

WATSON: Laptops, cameras, a wireless modem, and a lot of bravery. They show me footage they secretly shot of Syrian troops looting shops in Idlib Province.

(on camera): What are they stealing, cigarettes?

SUMAC: Yes. Cigarettes and shampoo.

WATSON (voice-over): The activists then distribute videos like this across Syria and the outside world through Skype, Facebook and YouTube. Amateur footage has become an important source of information for international news organizations like CNN --

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Happening right now at the iDesk, black smoke is rising over the towns of Syria.

WATSON: -- which are barred from working freely inside Syria.

At first glance, this little operation looks like a grungy Middle Eastern university dorm room, but these men see themselves as media warriors. "We're fighting a war against the regime's media channels," says the group's leader. "Even though we're working for free, with few resources, we're winning against them because we're servants of our revolution who are demanding freedom."

Each activist knows the high stakes of this conflict all too well.

(on camera): You filmed this video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, with our friend Huzzayfa Khatib. We want Muslims to take a video of the army.

WATSON (voice-over): Twenty-three-year-old Huzzayfa Khatib last moments alive caught on camera by his friend after he was shot by Syrian soldiers. The little group of revolutionaries have named themselves the Huzzayfa Khatib Media Brigade in honor of their fallen comrade.


WATSON: One of the brigade members, 19-year-old Ibrahim Kabani (ph), sang a song calling for the end of Syria's 40-year dictatorship. And in a dangerous act of defiance, he specifically asked that his face be shown on camera.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in Idlib Province, Syria.


STOUT: Syrian state media report that the government has expressed deep condolences over the deaths of two foreign journalists in Homs on Wednesday, American Marie Colvin of "The Sunday Times" and French photographer Remi Ochlik, who were killed in heavy shelling, reportedly at a makeshift media center. And three other journalists were also injured, and the governments of Britain and France are demanding that the Syrian government provide them with immediate medical care.

Now, Syria denies responsibility for their deaths. And a banner on state TV reads this: "Journalists need to respect the laws of the press in Syria, avoid breaking these laws, and avoid entering illegally into Syria with the intention to reach unstable and unsafe places."

Tributes are also pouring in for a prominent citizen journalist in Homs who was killed in shelling on Tuesday. Now, Rami al-Sayed videotaped several moving reports on the suffering of civilians, and a tribute to him has been uploaded to YouTube. It includes some of his brave work, and we warn you, there are graphic images that you may find disturbing.


TEXT: "I do not want people to simply say our hearts are with you!"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baby, baby, baby.


TEXT: "No one will forgive you for just talking without any action!"


STOUT: One opposition group says that 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian government's crackdown began. That was nearly one year ago.

Turning now to Iraq and what some are calling the deadliest day in at least a month. A wave of shootings and explosions rocked the country on Thursday. And most of the violence took place in Baghdad within about a two-hour time frame. At least 38 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

And a car bomb in southwest Baghdad killed six people, leaving several others wounded. At least six more people died when gunmen opened at a security checkpoint in the city's northwest. And police believe that militants coordinated the attacks. So far, no group has claimed responsibility.

And in Afghanistan, there is growing unrest over the burning of Islam's holy book, the Quran. Now, NATO says two troops were killed on Thursday by a person wearing an Afghan National Army uniform. And just hours earlier, the Taliban called on Muslims to attack NATO bases and convoys and kill soldiers in retaliation for the burning of Qurans and other Islamic religious material.

There have been marches and violent protests across the country. At least seven people have died over the past few days, with many injured in clashes with police. NATO says the burnings at Bagram Air Base were a mistake and has apologized. And the office of Hamid Karzai says U.S. President Barack Obama has sent his Afghan counterpart a letter of apology, saying the incident was not intentional and pledging a full investigation.

Now, even so, there are fears the trouble may escalate in the coming days. And for more on the Quran burning incident and its aftermath, I'm joined now by CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, who joins us live from the Afghan capital of Kabul.

And Nick, have you seen more violent protests today?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It appears whatever level of apology the United States and NATO offer, it doesn't seem to be slowing down, this violence.

Let me read for you a letter which the U.S. Embassy confirmed was sent from Barack Obama to President Hamid Karzai today, delivered by hand, in fact, by the U.S. ambassador.

Obama writes, "I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incidents. I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies. The error was inadvertent. I assure you we'll take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible."

Now, really, there's nobody left in the American chain of command, any senior, to apologize for this. But today, we see these protests continue to spring up, many of them lethal. One we just heard of in Kapisa, to the east of here, another one further east than that, in Nangarhar, in which, apparently, shots were fired, resulting in the death of two protesters and the injuring of seven of them.

But on that same base, a separate incident. And they're not confirming if they actually were directly connected to the Quran protest in which a man in an Afghan army uniform shot dead to ISAF soldiers as well.

So these incidents of violence are seen to be continuing now for the third day, resulting in two full days now of the U.S. diplomatic mission here being basically frozen because it's not safe for their staff to move around the country. And, of course, fears that tomorrow is Friday, and the prayers and often some of the speeches given by mullahs in mosques, we could see further violence -- Kristie.

STOUT: The unrest goes on and could continue.

President Hamid Karzai, what is his response and how is he managing these violent protests?

WALSH: Well, at this stage, I think it's fair to say that the Afghan presidential palace hasn't really chosen a side, so to speak, in trying to calm this down, and certainly they're not really inflaming matters. Releasing this statement from Barack Obama is perhaps an attempt to try and show that the Americans genuinely are sorry, and maybe some kind of tacit acknowledgement there. But really, all of this is becoming a little academic.

Afghanistan doesn't work in that sort of way in which I'm sure many NATO officials believe they've handled this in the correct way for a PR (INAUDIBLE) in Washington, D.C. This is Afghanistan, where, effectively, many Afghans just see that NATO have openly admitted to burning Qurans. The apologies of course are nice, but they aren't going to stop furious crowds who have seen a decade of NATO presence here, not bring them what was originally promised.

It's not going to stop them hearing misinformation, misinformation at the very start which said NATO was having a mass burning of Qurans at Bagram. Of course, completely untrue, ,but these things are spreading slowly amongst people who have had very little for a very long time, apart from growing resentment towards Afghan officials and the NATO presence here -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, the trouble started when NATO soldiers were seen taking copies of the Quran to be burned. Knowing the sensitivity involved here, why did this happen? Why did they do that?

WALSH: It begs (ph) belief to many, to be honest. I mean, one military official to me has given a pretty understandable explanation as to how this happened. These were apparently religious texts being used inside a detention facility on Bagram Air Base, near it, to pass what he referred to as extremist communications.

They were gathered up and then put somewhere. It's not clear at this point what exactly was supposed to happen to them had they been treated appropriately. But what appears to have happened is somebody made a mistake, they picked them up and took them off to be incinerated with the normal trash on the Bagram Air Base, which meant that local Afghans working on the base came across these particular texts.

That's the explanation we've got. At the end of the day, as I say, a lot of this academic now to protest to using this as almost a catalyst for anger they've held for many years -- Kristie.

STOUT: Nick Paton Walsh, joining us live from Kabul.

Thank you.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, world leaders meet to talk terror and militant threats in Somalia.

What one woman no longer needs could help save other women a world away. The resale of donated bras brings economic freedom.

And the final four Republican presidential candidates square off again.

Stay with us.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, lawlessness, poverty and piracy, just some of the issues facing Somalia today. And world leaders are gathered at a major conference in London to try and face up to the country's problems.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are there. They're being joined by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the leaders of Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, among others.

Now, Somalia is regarded as one of the most dangerous countries on Earth. It's had no functioning government for years. It is a breeding ground for dangerous pirates who roam the Horn of Africa and militant groups like Al- Shabaab.

CNN's Nima Elbagir is following the conference from outside Lancaster House in central London. She joins us now.

And Nima, what kind of action plan is being discussed there to help Somalia?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, Kristie, what we're getting mainly from this conference is a realization from the international community that they are paying the price now for not acting on Somalia. In addition to the financial costs, the over $55 billion that's been estimated that has been spent on Somalia in the over two decades of civil war, there is also the cost in terms of the exposure to terror and the way that terror is beginning to impact not just the U.K., but also the U.S.

An estimated 25 percent of Al-Shabaab (sic) fighters are believed -- foreign fighters, sorry -- are believed to be British. So, really, this conference is about trying to bring about a consensus internationally to act on Somalia.

So far, we have not, of course, seen the communique, but we are hearing that there will be some sort of international taskforce to try and unify legally the sentences and the action on piracy. At the moment, there really isn't a unified international maritime law in the sentences that pirates will face if they're captured.

There also is a movement towards unifying the international action on aid going into Somalia, because they do accept that the cycles of poverty and disenfranchisement are driving radicalism both in Somalia, but also amongst the Somalia Diaspora abroad. So the hope is that what we'll see is a reinvigorated international response for Somalia, because they accept that it is in their interest -- Kristie.

STOUT: You mentioned a focus on piracy, on aid for Somalia. How much focus is on Al-Shabaab, the militant group that has controlled much of the country?

ELBAGIR: Well, and specifically because Al-Shabaab has now announced that they are officially part of the al Qaeda network, we've been hearing a lot about Al-Shabaab. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has made that one of the priorities for the conference. And also, Prime Minister David Cameron, where a lot of the recruitment, of course, from Al-Shabaab, as I was saying a little earlier, is coming from the United Kingdom.

This, for them, is the priority. The fear is, when you have an ethnic Somali community both in the U.K., the U.S., and across Europe, that that movement will be both ways. It won't just be radicals going into Somalia. There is a fear that you might get, as intelligence services have warned, lone wolf actors who have trained in Somalia, because it is the only actual territorial footprint of that extent for Al-Shabaab (INAUDIBLE) to have at the moment.

They have a port down in southern Somalia, in Kismayo, that is in terrorist control. All of this, incredibly unsettling. Al-Shabaab and piracy are the two big issues that they have to try and find a way through here today -- Kristie.

STOUT: So many challenges for this country.

Nima Elbagir, joining us live from London.

Thank you.

Now, Al-Shabaab is considered one of the main causes of instability in the region. Neighboring Kenya blames Al-Shabaab for several high-profile kidnappings and has sent troops over the border to battle the militants. But as David McKenzie reports, Kenya could end up being bogged down in a drawn-out conflict.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Touching down into the central sector (INAUDIBLE) in Somalia, into the most active front line with al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab. Kenyan politicians said that this fight would be over in a matter of weeks, but it's dragged on for months.

(on camera): You can still see the bullet holes in this hospital. Somali militia groups took the town of Doble (ph) in five days of fierce fighting from Al-Shabaab. But since Kenya made its incursion into this country, many worry because there is the static front line, that the Kenyans will get stuck.

(voice-over): They want to crash Al-Shabaab, but they haven't moved beyond small villages far from the militant strongholds.

The commander of Kenya's ground forces says it's not about speed.

(on camera): Why has it taken so long?

BRIG. JOHNSON ONDIEKI, KENYAN ARMY: Politics and military operations are completely different. We get the political direction, but the military operations are meticulous. You have to step by step, and therefore we are going step by step to achieve the political aim and objectives.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Militarily, Kenya has advantages. Air power can degrade Al-Shabaab positions and superior equipment can give them an edge in a conventional fight. But Al-Shabaab is an no conventional force.

(on camera): In the early days of the campaign, Kenyan soldiers came across large groups of Al-Shabaab fighters fighting in the daytime. But as the weeks have dragged on, the commanders tell us now they're only coming at night between 5:00 and 10:00, doing asymmetrical attacks. Hardware like this is becoming less and less useful.

(voice-over): The Kenyan military wants to stop guerrilla attacks and win the hearts of the population, but Somalis, who have lived under a string of foreign armies, say they want food, not friends.

"It's been more peaceful since the Kenyans came," she says. "But we don't have food, we don't have medication. There are no schools."

"Life is so hard here. It's so hard and we have no government."

If Kenya defeats Al-Shabaab, other armed groups say they are ready to take its place. And they are already jockeying for power.

Until Somalia is ruled by laws, not guns, there's very little chance for peace.

David McKenzie, CNN, Tabda, Somalia.


STOUT: You're watching CNN NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after the break.


STOUT: All this week we've been bringing you reports from Mozambique about the plight of young girls who are victims of sex traffickers. A volunteer group in the U.S. is helping the girls by giving them the tools to become self-sufficient.

Nkepile Mabuse shows us how they are reaching out.


KIMBA LANGAS, FREE THE GIRLS: We like the new ones, because the girls in Mozambique can sell them for more money.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Kimba Langas, they've always been in the back of her drawer and in the back of her mind.

LANGAS: As women, you know, we buy a bra, don't try it on, get it home, wear it once. It doesn't fit, and it's one of those items where you'd like to donate it when you donate clothes to a charity, but you're not sure, do we donate bras? What do we do with bras? So we all have these bras hanging around.

MABUSE: For Thea (ph), 15,000 kilometers away, there's so much more. She tells us when she was just 12, she was sold into prostitution. Four years ago she escaped.

"I always had hope I could leave," she says. "I feel good knowing you can actually do it."

Today, her freedom comes with the money she earns by selling second-hand bras in Maputo, bras that Kimba Langas collects and sends from the United States. Two women a world away, connected.

LANGAS: This is the first time where I've been involved in something in such a hands on and tangible way. It does get me very emotional, and I didn't think that I -- I did not have that emotional connection when we first started Free the Girls. It was kind of like a fun project and a new challenge, and this bra things is neat, and, oh, yes, there's this human trafficking element. But I think the more you learn, the more you can't help but be affected by it at a pretty deep emotional level.

MABUSE (on camera): Used clothing is a huge business here in Maputo, and it's bras that fetch some of the highest prices. The fact that sellers can make up to three times the average wage here made it the perfect vehicle to help girls trafficked as children because of poverty an opportunity to attain economic freedom.

(voice-over): Dave Terpstra admits he doesn't know much about bras, but he says he saw a problem and decided it was time to act.

DAVE TERPSTRA, FREE THE GIRLS: You know, it's one thing to watch something on TV and to get upset about this problem that feels like it's over there. But when you actually meet the girls and you see the scars on their faces and on their bodies, when you hear the stories of how they've been taken advantage of -- and as I build a relationship with these girls and become their friends, I mean, these are my friends that somebody did this to.


LANGAS: Greetings. We've boxed them all up already.

MABUSE: Together, Dave and Kimba run Free the Girls out of a room in his house in Maputo and an office in her house in Denver. She collects the bras; he delivers them.

TERPSTRA: And it was supposed to just be a little project. Just sort of talking to some friends and things along those lines, collecting bras and maybe sending them over in an extra suitcase every now and then.

MABUSE: But the response was bigger than either of them expected. After Kimba published a plea on Facebook, the bras started pouring in from all over.

LANGAS: When we started out, we got really excited if it was 50 bras or 100 bras or 200 bras. And then, all of a sudden, you know, 800 bras, 1,000 bras, 1,250 bras.

There was a drive in Arizona, and the women collected 8,000 bras. The was a church in Tennessee that collected 3,000 bras. There was a (INAUDIBLE) group here in Denver that collected 1,250 bras.

MABUSE: When she ran out of room in her house she rented a storage unit. And it just a few months, Kimba has collected nearly 25,000 bras. Now she has to figure out how to get all those bras in Denver to the women in Maputo who so desperately need them.

LANGAS: That's what the biggest challenge is, is getting the bras over there.

MABUSE: She says it would cost $6,500 to ship all of them, money she just doesn't have.

LANGAS: A lot of bras over there.

MABUSE: But she's determined to find a way, inspired by the women she's fighting for and encouraged by the kindness of so many strangers. In return, she hopes to sway others to find a way to get involved, and she says it doesn't take much.

LANGAS: It can be something as simple as pulling a couple of bras out of the back of your underwear drawer and knowing that you can make a difference.

MABUSE: Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Maputo, Mozambique.


STOUT: And we have a special presentation that celebrates ordinary people taking a stand against human trafficking. Some are CNN viewers who saw our "Freedom Project" reports and took actin. Tune in Friday, 1:30 p.m. here in Hong Kong.

And coming up next on NEWS STREAM, another face-off between the men battling for the chance to challenge President Barack Obama in November. And the barbs were flying. We'll have the details.

And the search engine Google, it's a big part of our online lives, but some experts are concerned about its new privacy policy. We'll tell you why.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM and these are your world headlines.

At least 38 people have been killed and more than a 100 wounded in a string of attacks in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Most of the shootings and explosions were in the capital. Now the attacks are believed to be a coordinated effort by militants. And so far no one has claimed responsibility.

Argentina's president declared a two day mourning period following Wednesday's commuter train crash in Buenos Aires. 50 people died when the train crashed into a barrier at a city station and hundreds were injured. Police are investigating the cause of the crash, but transport authorities have already said they believe there were problems with the train's breaks.

The Red Cross says urgent discussions are taking place to allow aid workers into Homs. Activists say at least four people have been killed across Syria so far this Thursday. Those deaths follow the killing of 60 people on Wednesday including two western journalists. The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the deaths.

The United Nations says there is evidence that Syrian forces have shot unarmed people, shelled residential areas, and tortured prisoners. Independent UN investigators are now calling for perpetrators of such alleged crimes against humanity to face prosecution.

Now Paulo Pinheiro headed the inquiry. And he joins us now live from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Thank you very much for joining us here on CNN.

Walk us through the key findings of your investigation.

PAULO PINHEIRO, UN INVESTIGATOR: This report is our second. We have demonstrated a consistent pattern in terms of arbitrary detentions, torture, killing of children, gross human rights violations and practice of some crimes against humanity.

As we are not criminal investigative body or a court, we decided to deposit the office of the high commission for human rights a list of names of individuals and also of military or security unit responsible for those crimes.

We have also indicated the practice of abuses by some members of the armed groups. But this -- but this is sealed list that one day a competent international body with deal with that.

But it was -- we were requested to do that. And we decided to do it.

LU STOUT: You mentioned this list of names, perpetrators of these crimes, is Bashar al Assad on this list of names?

PINHEIRO: No. The report has not elaborated on that. We have identified high levels of the chain of command of the army and security forces, but we have not named a single individual.

LU STOUT: Now in addition to the killings, there have also been a number of abductions, a number of Syrians have been detained during the uprising this last year. How many, according to your findings, and how many detention centers are out there?

PINHEIRO: This is really the question, because we don't know how many facilities there are not reliable numbers of people in detention as we said in the report. There were some (inaudible), some hundreds were released, but today we don't have a number.

There are number sources have estimates of more than 10,000 people detained. But in the report we have not mentioned a concrete number. What is continuing as is happening today in Homs that people, young people are being detained. And this is completely unacceptable.

LU STOUT: Now you, the United Nations, were denied entry to Syria for this report. So how did you gather your information?

PINHEIRO: That is -- we have -- there are courageous people in Syria. We made Skype interviews, telephone interviews. We have interviewed defectors. We have informations from several international organizations. We're able, this time to interview more than 100 people. There now we are convinced that we have a credible body of circumstance and reference that we describe in the report.

LU STOUT: Now in addition to these witnesses and human references, did you rely on satellite imagery? Did that play a role in corroborating witness accounts?

PINHEIRO: Ah, for sure to happen. It's fantastic how we can follow the movement of tanks, of troops to satellite images. And we describe this in our report.

LU STOUT: And after the report, it's been released. It's now out there. What happens next to change the situation in Syria and to end the bloodshed there?

PINHEIRO: I think that the image and decision is a cease-fire. This, the international committee of the Red Cross, the (inaudible) invite today as I was informed, the international committee cannot continue with this situation in Homs. And not just Homs, there are other cities where you have dreadful (inaudible) situation. And I think is the most emergency decision to have taken.

Tomorrow there will be this meeting of the Friends of Syria. There will be a discussion of ministers at human rights council. But I hope that this indiscriminate bombardment of the civilian population in Homs stops. I think this is the -- but as we say in the report, the commission believes that the only solution for this crisis is a negotiated settlement, because there is not at all any military solution visible for -- to solve the crisis.

LU STOUT: Paulo Pinheiro, UN investigator and head of the UN inquiry into Syria. Thank you for joining us here on CNN.

And we will continue to watch the situation in Syria as the siege of Homs continues.

But I want to take you next to the United States where candidates for the Republican party nomination, they took part in a debate on Wednesday. As expected, there was little love lost between frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney taking no prisoners as he delivered his thoughts on his main rival's spending in congress.


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Looking at his historic record, which voting for raising the debt ceiling five different times without voting for compensating cuts, voting to keep in place Davis- Bacon which cost about $100 billion over 10 years, a whole series of votes -- voting to fund Planned Parenthood, to expand the Department of Education. During his term in the Senate, spending grew by some 80 percent in the federal government.


LU STOUT: Now Santorum wasn't going to take his opponents words lying down. He defended his actions saying government debt as a percentage of GDP went down when he was in congress.


RICK SANTORUM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the governor talks about raising the debt ceiling. There was a debt ceiling vote this summer. And the governor was asked the question whether he would have voted to raise the debt ceiling ultimately and he said yes, because government has to pay the bills. We can't default ultimately.

What happened the 12 years I was in the United States Senate, we went from the debt to GDP ratio which is now over 100 percent, when I came to the Senate it was 68 percent of GDP. When I left the Senate it was 64 percent of GDP. So government as the size of the economy went down when I was in the United States Senate.


LU STOUT: Now for a closer look at what the coming days can bring for the Republican candidates and also analysis and wrap up of that CNN debate, I'm joined by CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser who joins us live once again from Mesa, Arizona.

And Paul, let's talk about the debate first and the performance of all the rivals. Rick Santorum, he was on the defensive. How did he deal with the attacks from his rivals? How did he appear to you?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know this was debate number 20 and for the first time Rick Santorum was center stage. And when you're center stage, Kristie, as you know you get a lot of scrutiny. You just played some of that sound there from Mitt Romney. And Mitt Romney really went on the attack against his rival now for the nomination. And he force Santorum to defend a record in the U.S. Congress when Santorum was a senator from Pennsylvania, a record that well maybe he doesn't do -- fly so well with conservative voters here. So crucial to picking the next Republican nominee.

Santorum was forced to defend his votes in favor of funding for Planned Parenthood, his votes in favor of No Child Left Behind, an education law here in the United States, not so popular with Republicans. He was forced to defend his stance on earmarks. And all of that -- listen, yes, he needs to defend his record, but again that can be a problem with conservative voters. And it put Santorum on the defensive. And sometimes he explanations to defend his record were getting a little bit in the weeds. So not a terrific, terrific performance I guess you could say for Rick Santorum.

I spoke to one of his top advisers right after the debate was over and he said, listen, not my candidate's best performance. But he said none of the other candidates hit a home run, so he was not that concerned, Kristie.

LU STOUT: But in contrast to Team Santorum, Mitt Romney and his campaign advisers, they seemed to assume confidence after the debate. Was that for good reason? Does he have some momentum behind him now?

STEINHAUSER: Listen, it was not Mitt Romney's best debate, no doubt about it. But, he did what he needed to do and that was bring Rick Santorum down a little bit. And he was affective in doing that. So that's what he needed to do and it seems he accomplished that. And, yeah, I talked to some of his top advisers after the debate and they were very happy with his performance. They felt like Santorum was on the defense most of the debate. And they feel very confident that Mitt Romney will win here in Arizona and in Michigan. Those are the next two contests. Those primaries are on Tuesday.

One other note, Newt Gingrich, he was one of the side shows, I guess you could say from the debate -- him and Ron Paul -- but Newt Gingrich seemed to have a very good debate. Listen, the former House speaker is known as a strong debater. He had his best performance in awhile, but his campaign has really faded over the last couple of weeks and whether he did well tonight in the debate or not it may not be enough, enough to really resuscitate his campaign in advance of Super Tuesday and the other big contests coming up, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, not enough for Gingrich, but it is interesting. And it seems that when there's less pressure on him he seems to perform better.

Now we've got to talk about Ron Paul. He does have a devoted base of voters. What role did he play in the debate? And what role is he playing in the race?

STEINHAUSER: Yeah, he was critical of Rick Santorum. And we've seen that lately in some of his campaign ads. He went after Rick Santorum, defended his commercial that calls Rick Santorum a fake when it comes to conservative -- being a conservative.

Listen, Ron Paul, his followers as you mentioned they're very energetic, enthusiastic, they will follow Ron Paul regardless of how he performs in debates. So for him, there was probably less on the line than the other candidates.

All of these candidates now look ahead to Tuesday where we have Arizona here and Michigan voting than Washington state a few days later and then on March 6 it's called Super Tuesday, 10 states vote. It's the largest day, single day of voting so far on the ballot for the Republican nomination. So the calendar over the next two weeks is extremely busy, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, a lot of delegates up for grabs in the weeks ahead. Paul Steinhauser, thank you very much indeed.

And for the latest political news and views, including major talking points from that debate, just visit CNN politics online,

Now up next here on NEWS STREAM, literally blown away in the U.S. state of Colorado. Dangerously strong winds caused widespread damage. We'll check the forecast.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong -- pretty misty out there. You're back watching NEWS STREAM.

After suffering a home loss earlier in the week Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks bounced back Wednesday with a victory at the Garden. Could this be the start of something? Alex Thomas is here with more on that and other sports headlines -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Possibly, Kristie. There certainly a massive game in the NBA later on Thursday when the team with this season's best record, the star-studded Miami Heat, hosting that man of the moment Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks.

Lin's impressive recent form continuing to a certain extent on Wednesday night when he and Carmelo Anthony finally got a win while playing together. New York with the big lead here over the Atlanta Hawks when Lin and Anthony team up for Melo to finish the break with a big slam in the second quarter. Anthony with 15 points and a game high team rebounds.

The home team still 15 clear when Lin nailed three out of his 17 points. And the wunderkind joint top scorer for the Knicks.

Although the Hawks outscored New York in the third and fourth quarters, Lin and the Knicks stayed in front.

Although it certainly wasn't a one man show. Baron Davis getting in on the fun, throwing it up to new signee JR Smith for the one-handed reverse alley-oop slam.

Final score 99-82. The Knicks are now 9-2 for their last 11 games.

Well, despite reports that star players Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have fallen out with Lakers management there was enough unity on display to overcome the NBA champions on Wednesday night in Dallas. We pick it up with a Derrick Fisher three as the Lakers go five clear in the fourth. That lead, despite a strong display from the Mavericks German star Dirk Nowitzki who hit this three, part of 25 points for him on the night, a minutes later Pau Gasol gets the tip-in to put the Lakers up by five. Gasol with 24 points to lead the Lakers.

And now here is Kobe trying to make something happen. He finds Andrew Bynum for the slam. Bynum with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but Bryant way down on his game average. It doesn't matter, though, the Lakers win anyway 96-91.

Now the first big world golf championship of the year, the Accenture Match Play is underway in Arizona. One of many fascinating match-ups on Wednesday was Tiger Woods versus Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was fired up after the Spaniard called him beatable before the round. Tiger recovering from two down at one stage and a good recovery shot from the bunker while one up playing the last hole.

There were some costly missed putts by Fernandez-Castano towards the end of his round. And he went wide again with a birdie chance that would have taken this one to extra holes. And it meant Woods was through to face Nick Watney.

Elsewhere Jim Furyk fourth shot on par 5 13. A great chip and it rolls into the cup for a birdie would you believe. Pressure, then, on his opponent Dustin Johnson who was also just off the green, but Johnson with his long hitting (inaudible) for eagle and proves that anything Furyk can do, he can do better. He goes in for an eagle putt. Johnson going on to win at the second extra hole.

Now let's take a look at Ernie Ells. He was only in the field, because Phil Mickelson pulled out. And this was the shot of the day. The big easy knocking out world number one and top seed Luke Donald 5 and 4 would you believe?

That's all the sport for now, Kristie. Back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: Alex Thomas, thank you.

Now two avalanches are being blamed for the deaths of at least 11 soldiers in India controlled Kashmir. Let's get more on the story now with Mari Ramos. She's standing by at the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, we've been talking pretty much this entire week about how heavy the snowfall has been across portions of south Asia. There along the mountains for Afghanistan, Pakistan and also for India. And now we're starting to see some of the results. Yesterday we showed you how bad it have been in Afghanistan. And now here we have these images from India as these were villagers looking for whatever is left of their homes trying to find some of their belongings.

And you can see how everything is just disheveled. You see pieces of trees there and huge what look like boulders even that are in here.

Look how high the snow is. You can see it several meters high in some cases. And you can see how their working in very dangerous conditions here because there is still danger for avalanches in this area, because of all of the snow that is falling.

The weather warnings are actually -- have actually expired in India, but they're saying that they could still have more heavy snow. We can definitely see that in our computer models.

The weather improving also in Afghanistan. It's still going to be bitterly cold, but I think the rain and the snow that had been plaguing this area will be ending, but notice northern Pakistan still will be getting some more snowfall as we head through the next couple of days.

Now another area that has had a high danger for avalanches pretty much this entire winter season has been here across Japan. While the temperatures in Tokyo aren't too bad, as we head up into the mountains we're dealing with extremely heavy snowfall yet again. And that is going to be a concern over the next 24 hours as well.

These pictures -- this is right here, this is Japan Meteorological Agency website. And we've highlighted for you here the areas that have avalanche warnings, or avalanche advisories I should say. And you can see how widespread this actually is. So we're dealing with phenomena that keeps happening over and over so far this winter season.

I want to take you to the U.S. And let me set this up first of all. We've talked about the avalanches pretty much on every continent right now. I want to show you this one caught on tape. But look at it carefully, you'll see how one person in one snow mobile can get -- can trigger an avalanche.

There you see it on the left side of your screen. This image was taken by another snow mobiler that was behind this first man. There you see it, he is actually the survivor of that avalanche. Pretty scary stuff when you think about it. There you see it one more time. You see that piece just coming down very quickly, the weight of just one skier, here it is in slow motion, setting off an avalanche. He said that had he not hung onto a tree he's certain that he would have been killed.

So pretty serious stuff when you look at something like that. So we'll be monitoring it closely.

One more thing I want to show you before we go and it's those high winds in Colorado. You're not going to believe your eyes. Bam! Kristie, did you see that? There it goes again. Isn't that scary? 80 mile an hour winds, that's about 130 kilometers per hour. The winds across this entire area have now stopped, but there were a lot of problems.

Yeah, trying to do -- I'm glad I'm in the studio. Look at that reporter there trying to stand still.

Oh my god, so scary. She could have been hurt badly with that.

LU STOUT: Yeah, yeah, let's hope she's OK. Powerful winds there knocking over power lines, knocking over people. Incredible. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, Google launches its new privacy policy next month and some industry watch dogs are worried. Are you ready? Stay with us.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now almost every web site has a little link somewhere on the page outlining what their privacy policy is. But how often do you actually read it? Now Dan Simon has been through Google's new privacy policy and he explains why the changes could have big implications.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the morning I check the headlines on Google News, send some personal email using Google's Gmail. I may check Google Maps for driving directions. Later at work I remember to do a Google search for plumbers. I also need to do research for this story, more searches. Later, I'll glance at my Google calendar for appointments, upload some videos to YouTube, and maybe I'll log on to Google+ the companies growing social network. And some variation of this happens almost every single day.

PETER ECKERSLEY, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION: Google knows almost everything about you.

SIMON: That's why privacy watchdogs like Peter Eckersley are sounding the alarm about Google's new privacy policy. Beginning next month, the company is going to keep track of your activity across all of its sites and build a profile of you. Google says it will use the information to improve its services, services where for example a user is more likely to get better search results.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll understand that when you search for jaguar, you're looking for a Jaguar.

SIMON: Critics say the company is stomping on privacy to bolster its advertising and in turn increase its profits.

ECKERSLEY: If there are things that you want to keep private about your life, those records are all in there. If there are things that you actually need to prevent other people from knowing about you, those will be in there.

SIMON: Those already nervous about the company's influence pounced when it became known last week that Google exploited a known weakness in Apple's Safari browser, bypassing the browser's privacy settings.

JONATHON MAYER, STANFORD RESEARCHER: When I first found what Google was doing I thought I had it wrong. I thought I had to have it wrong.

SIMON: Jonathon Mayer is the Stanford researcher who uncovered the Safari breach. On the surface he says it may not seem like a serious transgression. Google's code was being used only to target ads and user's personal information was never collected. But for some, web searches believed to be private were not. And that, Mayer says, opens the door to private information being exposed by rogue employees, internet hacking, and more.

MAYER: It does it get disclosed because an employee is evil, because a company messes up it does it get disclosed because the government demands it?

SIMON: As for the new policy, Google acknowledges that, quote, "people have different privacy concerns. Our goal is to be clear about what information we collect so you can make meaningful choices about how it is used."

The bottom line, people use Google because it offers important and useful services that are also free.

ECKERSLEY: At this point, absolutely have to trust Google. And in a sense, on one hand Google is probably more trustworthy than a lot of these other big technology companies. But because they know so much about us, we have to hold them to a higher standard of trust.

SIMON: Now if you're among those concerned about your privacy on Google, the company points out that its privacy controls won't change. Users still have the option of editing or deleting their search history. But if you don't want to be tracked in the first place, the easiest solution is this, just sign out of your account, then all of your searches will be anonymous.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


LU STOUT: So if you're worried about Google gathering data about you, you'll be happy to know that Google offers a simple way to turn it off. You can see everything that the web giant has on you at

Now here is my producer's web history. We've blurred it out for his privacy. And don't worry, unless you really like video games you're not missing anything.

Now all you have to do is click this, remove all web history. And then once you click OK on the next page, Google will remove all of your web history and says it will not collect any more in the future.

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.